POSTED ON 9/2/2012- Apologies for posting this late, I had written this for another space, not realizing the great SMQ had been resurrected. Every since I conceived of this series, it struck me as something fitting for the SMQ audience. So with Matt's permissive indifference, I would like to share it with you here.
|Above:The Crystal Football awarded to the champion of the coaches' poll may be the most famous prize in college football, but it is far from the only trophy in the game.|
So many things make college football special that, if I tried to write a list, carpal tunnel would set in before I could get half-way through. Yet somewhere near the top of my list -written well before pain crippled my pudgy, little hands- would be the unique wonder of trophy games. In no other sport I can name are teams awarded an hallowed artifact based on the outcome of an individual regular season game.
Trophies could be awarded for any number of reasons, to mark long standing rivalries, to signify respect between two schools, to reflect the pagentry surrounding a game, to boost the enthusiasm among the fans, or just because a bunch of drunken college kids thought it would be fun back in 1933. As varied as the reasons to have a trophy can be, the forms these trophies come in are even more diverse. On top of the many cups, bowls, and standard trophies, college football teams compete for buckets, skillets, rags, axes, jugs, shoes, golden hats and wooden turtles.
The raw number of prizes won and lost in a season will likely surprise/horrify the casual fan. So far my research has discovered more than 150 trophies still actively awarded to various game-winners. Included in that number are six different Governor's Cups, five different Victory Bells, and one Governor's Victory Bell. If someone were so inclined, we could assemble a very impressive trophy case with all the baubles and tchotchkes at stake over the course of a season. In a sense that is what I intend to do over the coming weeks.
This entry launches a series of FanPosts focusing on the wide array of trophy games to be played over this college football season. Each week I will explore different aspects of the games that decided who receive these prizes, the teams that will compete for them and the physical objects of reverence themselves. The goal will be to highlight a key trophy up for grabs during the coming weekend and take note of all the games being played for spoils in the FBS. (Completely tangential aside: FBS stands for "Football Bowl Subdivision" to differentiate the high-profile portion of NCAA Division I schools that play in bowls from those that play in a championship playoff or FCS. Well now that the playoff proponents have won their much desired 4-team playoff for FBS starting in 2014, won't that make the current monikers obsolete. Maybe we'll go back to I-A and I-AA. Though I would like to hear some alternative suggestions.) In addition to the top-level rivalry games many of you already have heard of, I will feature some of the trophies that the less famous schools play for. Trust me there are some really interesting items up for grabs in Divisions II and III. So please check this space regularly during the college football season. I hope to get you all so excited for these trophy games that you start clearing some space on your mantle.